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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 1, 2010

MONDAY, JAN. 11, 2010

Gov. Butch Otter delivers his State of the State and budget message to lawmakers. (Betsy Russell)

New $40M holdback would hit schools

On holdbacks, Gov. Butch Otter said, "As you know, the tiered holdback that I ordered in September gets us only part of the way to addressing the projected shortfall in our Fiscal Year 2010 revenue. I am asking you today to approve that holdback and…

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Otter would cut 400 state jobs

"My budget eliminates more than 400 positions throughout state government - including about 375 that are now vacant, and consolidates some agency operations," Gov. Butch Otter told lawmakers. Twenty-five existing jobs at the state Department of Parks & Recreation would be eliminated as the department…

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Otter: Reports will call for tax incentives 

The governor said he'll "soon be submitting reports" from his business and innovation summits calling for eliminating the personal property tax; enacting tax credits for infrastructure construction investments; and creating a homebuyer tax credit like Utah's. The reports will be submitted to the germane committees…

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Otter lists five priorities

Gov. Butch Otter listed five priorities, with the first being not to raise taxes. No. 2: Maintain some cash reserves. No. 3: Protect education. "As our recovery advances, one of our first priorities for new dollars should be our public schools and higher education," he…

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Otter: 'No. 1, we must not raise taxes' 

"Number one, we must not raise taxes," Gov. Butch Otter told lawmakers. "It is not our place to impose an additional economic burden on the people of Idaho who already are struggling, or to put a damper on our economic recovery." His comments drew a…

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Gov. Butch Otter addresses a joint session of the Idaho legislature. (Betsy Russell)

Otter: 'We're all in this together' 

"We're all in this together," Otter told the assembled lawmakers, officials and onlookers. "We have the talent, the intelligence, the will and most of all the people to get through this - smarter, tougher, and better than ever, and we will." He added, "It will…

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Gov. Butch Otter enters the House chamber for his State of the State message. (Betsy Russell)

Otter arrives in the House chamber

Gov. Butch Otter warmly greeted lawmakers as he arrived in the chamber. Then he began by apologizing - because he said this will be his longest State of the State message. He joked that it might be longer than the session. The governor then introduced…

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Senators file into the Idaho House chamber for a joint session, for the governor's State of the State address. (Betsy Russell)

Senators arrive in House chamber

Senators are filing in to the House chamber for the State of the State. There are greetings and camaraderie, but there's also a solemn undertone - the governor is expected to announce sharp cuts in the state budget. Already, last week, he said he'll impose…

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House Speaker Lawerence Denney presents an honor guard with the flag that will fly above the chamber, signifying that the Legislature is in session for 2010. (Betsy Russell)

Legislature convenes for 2010 session

The House has convened, and has made a formal presentation to an honor guard of the flag that will fly above the chamber, signifying that the Legislature is in session. In less than an hour, the full Senate, the justices of the Supreme Court and…

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State responds to Pam Lowe's lawsuit

Here's a link to my full story at on the state's response to fired ITD Director Pam Lowe's wrongful-termination lawsuit. The state filed its response over the weekend; it was filed by Newal Squyres of the Boise law firm Holland & Hart, who is…

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SUNDAY, JAN. 10, 2010

Idaho's state Capitol is now open for business. It reopened Saturday after a two-and-half-year closure for restoration and expansion. The state Legislature opens its session in the Capitol on Monday. (Betsy Russell)

Here it comes...

Here's a link to my Sunday story on the upcoming legislative session and its challenges. The Legislature convenes at noon (MT) on Monday, and the governor's State of the State and budget address to a joint session is scheduled for 1 p.m. Mountain time, noon…

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SATURDAY, JAN. 9, 2010

Idahoans stream into their newly reopened state Capitol on Saturday. The building has been closed for two and a half years for renovation and expansion. (Betsy Russell)

Thousands tour newly reopened Capitol 

Thousands of Idahoans are streaming through their state capitol today, after a noon rededication ceremony that concluded when Gov. Butch Otter said, "I now declare the Capitol building officially open to conduct the people's business."Crowds poured up the steps and through the second-floor doors, and…

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THURSDAY, JAN. 7, 2010

This view shows the dome over the Idaho State Senate chambers, newly restored. The Idaho state capitol reopens to the public on Saturday after a two-and-a-half-year renovation. (Betsy Russell)

Ready to reopen...

Idaho's state Capitol has been renovated and shined up, but it still looks pretty much like it always has - except better. It's cleaner and brighter, with more of the natural light it originally was designed to let in. It's bigger, too, with the addition…

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Gov. Butch Otter addresses the media at the AP Legislative Preview, which drew a full house on Thursday morning in Boise. (Betsy Russell)

A newsy morning... 

There's been lots of news this morning, from Gov. Butch Otter's announcement about coming holdbacks on schools to university presidents' dire warnings about the impact of cuts on Idaho's higher education. Meanwhile, the joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee continues to meet, taking testimony…

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University of Idaho President Duane Nellis, center, addresses the AP Legislative Preview in Boise. At left is BSU President Bob Kustra; at right is Marty Peterson, special assistant to Nellis. (Betsy Russell)

Wins on field, but trouble in budgets...

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis opened his talk to the AP legislative preview this morning by congratulating BSU President Bob Kustra, who sat next to him, on BSU's Fiesta Bowl win. "I think it's just great for the state of Idaho," he declared, noting…

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Moyle: Tax cut might not be 'doable' this year 

In comments earlier this morning at the AP legislative preview, House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, appeared to back off from a proposal he's put forth to phase in big tax cuts, starting this year, by reducing Idaho's individual and corporate income tax rates. With…

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Dems call for 'tax fairness,' vs. hikes 

The Legislature's minority caucuses aren't calling for a tax increase, Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly said. "There are many, many things we can do to improve our revenue picture without raising taxes," she said. "We have a tax system that has been very, very poorly…

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From left, House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise, Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs, and House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, address the press at the AP Legislative Preview in Boise. (Betsy Russell)

'Great to have public back in the process'

Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes noted that at this morning's AP Legislative Preview, the new, spacious hearing room in the Capitol's new underground wings was full to overflowing. "We chose the wrong hearing room," he said, adding that now there are rooms big enough to…

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Gov. Butch Otter answers questions from reporters on Thursday. At left is reporter John Miller of the Associated Press. (Betsy Russell)

Otter favors holdback on schools 

Schools would be hit by any additional holdbacks imposed this year, Gov. Butch Otter said just now in response to questioning from reporters at his news conference this morning. Asked if he supports a proposal GOP legislative leaders put forth in a Dec. 7 letter…

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Next year: 'No-growth budget' 

Gov. Butch Otter said, "On Monday we will be announcing for 2011 a no-growth budget." He noted that even though he's not imposed additional holdbacks on the current year's budget since his September announcement of a 4 percent cut, state agencies have been put on…

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'The percentage is - Monday'

Asked what percentage of holdback, or mid-year budget cut, he's planning to propose for the state's budget, Gov. Butch Otter said, "The percentage is Monday." That's the day he'll make his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature and unveil…

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